- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

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July 28

The Charleston Gazette on U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito voting to advance the cause to undo the Affordable Care Act:

Over the past weeks, Shelley Moore Capito has been vocal about her problems with her fellow Senate Republicans’ plans to replace the Affordable Care Act.

I didn’t come to Washington to hurt people, she said. The bill is not the right fix for West Virginia, she said.

But this week, push came to shove. In two votes as close as they could be, Capito showed who she went to Washington to represent.

Bad news for the most vulnerable West Virginians who need health care: It’s not you.

Bad news also for people with pre-existing conditions, or those whose businesses and household budgets thrive better when people have access to affordable health care and the future of the system is not in a constant state of uncertainty: It’s not you, either.

Capito’s vote Tuesday to advance the cause to undo progress made by the Affordable Care Act was bad enough. But the vote Friday for a “skinny repeal” of the health care act - in the small hours of the night, after the bill had been available for only two hours and after practically every group with a stake in health care had come out against it - may be the worst vote she’s ever cast.

Friday’s bill didn’t have any of the funding to help West Virginians addicted to opioids, which Capito said was so important. She said if necessary, she wouldn’t vote to repeal the act without a replacement in place - and a replacement was nowhere in sight. No guarantee that the approximately 170,000 West Virginians who received coverage under the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program will continue to have access to health care, or substance abuse treatment.

When the Republican Party leadership needed her, Capito abandoned all her noble words and meekly fell in line, voting with the majority of Republican senators for the bill. They said they didn’t like the bill, and hoped it wouldn’t become law, and they would fix it in consultation with the House of Representatives.

(Of course, that’s largely what House Republicans, notably Rep. Evan Jenkins, said about their health care repeal bill they sent to the Senate earlier this spring: We don’t like our bill, but we passed what we could get enough Republicans to vote for, and we hope the Senate will fix it.)

In recent weeks, Capito was grouped with Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as moderate GOP senators who were standing firm against efforts to deny insurance coverage to poor people.

No one’s putting them together now. Along with Sen. John McCain, Collins and Murkowski voted against Friday’s terrible bill. Capito couldn’t find it within herself. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needed her. President Donald Trump landed in her state and called her out at the Boy Scouts’ National Jamboree, and she went running to them.

In all this, let’s not forget Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat in a pro-Trump state who has said all along he wants to repair, not repeal, the Affordable Care Act and did not waver on that.

Capito’s wavering, on the other hand, has prompted people to throw around some strong words for her, such as liar and hypocrite. She caught some of those same words from right-wingers as well, because she refused earlier to vote for a straight repeal of the ACA after doing so previously in the Senate (and dozens of times in the House), when she knew that then-President Barack Obama would veto those.

So maybe she was stuck.

But there’s a way to avoid that situation. Pick a side.

This week, Capito did. And it was the side of the Republican Party in Washington, not the side of West Virginians.

Online: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/

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July 24

Charleston Daily Mail on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission releasing a positive environmental impact statement for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

The West Virginia economy and that of the surrounding area got some much-needed good news last week when the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a positive environmental impact statement for Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The move is all but the final approval needed for the 600-mile, $5 billion investment in new energy capacity.

If approved by the FERC in the coming months, pipeline construction - and the 17,000 jobs it will provide in three states - could begin in the fall.

But the pipeline project is not just about temporary construction jobs. It’s about greater access to clean-burning, affordable energy for consumers across the East Coast. It’s about increased possibilities for manufacturers in the area to obtain a much-needed fuel to grow their business.

It’s about generating revenue for West Virginia and surrounding states as tremendous reserves of natural gas currently tapped into - but with nowhere to go - will begin moving, generating severance taxes for the state and royalties for mineral owners - many of them small farmers and landowners.

It’s about making use of American energy and - along with other pipeline projects proposed for the region - adding to the potential for the United States to export increasing amounts of natural gas. This will boost American profitability, while reducing the influence of Russia as an energy provider to Europe and the world.

“It’s a culmination of 150 pages of report, 75,000 public comments, 300 route adjustments that we’ve been making over the last three years,” Bob Orndorff, Dominion’s West Virginia managing director told Hoppy Kercheval Monday on Metronews Talkline.

A vocal group of opponents, largely environmental activists, don’t agree that the pipeline is good. Many say the state and country should move toward renewable fuels like solar and wind for future energy needs.

Yet those renewable sources of power are increasing their share of the total energy mix. And construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline won’t change that.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the renewable share of energy production in the United States in 2016 was 10.5 percent. “This was the largest renewable share since the 1930s, when overall energy consumption was lower and the amount of biomass consumption (mainly wood) was relatively high,” the EIA reports.

Still, the share of energy fossil fuels provided in the United States last year - even at its lowest percentage in a century - was 81 percent.

Renewable energy can and will increase its production capacity and its share of the U.S. energy mix in the coming years. And that’s good.

Yet believing renewables can replace fossil fuels in our lifetimes or our grandchildren’s lifetimes is a pipe dream. And the West Virginia economy and energy users in the United States don’t need pipe dreams.

They need pipelines. Pipelines bring in revenue, increase jobs and growth, and help increase the availability and decrease the cost of clean energy.

West Virginia looks forward to full final FERC approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Online: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/

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July 24

The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register on how state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office should be allowed to do more about Medicaid fraud:

During just three months, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office helped save taxpayers $1.3 million in improper Social Security claims. The work, in cooperation with federal officials, occurred during the second quarter of this year.

That amount adds to the millions of dollars in other improper Social Security claims Morrisey’s investigators have helped detect.

So, why won’t state legislators turn Morrisey’s office loose on Medicaid fraud?

He has been asking lawmakers to do that for many months. It would require only transferring the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the attorney general.

It has been pointed out that the DHHR does not have a particularly good record in finding and cracking down on fraud. West Virginia’s recovery rate is below the national average.

There is plenty of room for crooked operators to rip off taxpayers through Medicaid. Here in West Virginia, Medicaid pays health care bills for about 510,000 people, at a cost of nearly $3 billion a year.

Morrisey thinks his office can recover millions of dollars a year more than the DHHR. His investigators’ record shows that may not be an idle boast.

It is puzzling that legislators, scrimping for every dollar they can find to balance the state budget, are not taking Morrisey up on his money-saving offer.

Online: https://www.theintelligencer.net/


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